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Honor To Whom Honor Is Due: For The Signal Of Liberty

Honor To Whom Honor Is Due: For The Signal Of Liberty image
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It would seem unreasonablo to pass over without commendation the late sptrited conduct of Senator Porter in the Señale of the United States. 1 allude to the occasion of the reBolution submilted by Mr. Calhoun requeBting information of the President as to various matters connected with the Brig Creólo, and arnong other ihings as to the unu-dor committed un board by "slaves." The resolulion was manifestly wrong in several respecta. U assumed contrary to (he opinión of nearly the entire North thut wrong had been done to our citizens, which must be redressed - that insult had been offered to the American flag - that a murder had been commilted and committed by claves. The Northern Prees generally denies all these assumption3, and commeuds in broad and unqualified terms the couduct of tho blacks. Yet in the Señale not a voice was heard in oppositiou to the three first assumptions, extravagant and unfounded at? thcy are, wholly opposed lo the views of the vaet majority of Northern people, and such as if carried out would bring us into direct collision witb the British Government on a question in regard to which tbey have the eense of the civilized world on their eide. Such an issue is certainly to be uvoided. Our Government opposed to that ofGreat Britain wilh three fuurths of our own citizens and all the rept of the civilized world, arrayed in sentiment against its toii ! Such is the exact attitude in which the resolution of Mr. Calhouu (supposing it carried out) placesus." Tojone of these assumptions Mr. Porter to bis lasting honor deterrnined to oppose himself. He moved that the word "slaves" be struck out and the word ''perons" be aubetituted, declaring that in his view tbc phraseology of the Constitution Bhould nol be departed from. Unaided and alone he braved the 6torm of wrath that this prop osilion raised in the slaveholding portion of the Señale, and when Calhoun railed anc! Preston scolded, and King threatened and Clay coaxed, he stood firm, planting himself upon the broad ground of tho Coosticution. Not uniil his coileague, Gov. VVoodbridge joined his voico to those oppcsed to his motion did he yield a hair's breadtb. Had he reeieted this cppcal bIso, ho would have saved himself and the State he represents from the shame of yielding to assumptions as groundless in principie as they are fatal to Hberty. That he did yield at last is matter of poignant regret, for his perseverenco would have shown that there %as one man in the Senate of the Uniied Siates, who dared to uct the freeman on a queetion relating to slavery - that he resisted so long as he did was honorable; had he pemsted it would have boen glorious. As it is we must hail itas thedawn of botter ihings - as the barbinger of hope tbat all regard for liberty is not etilïcd in our American Congreas by fear of the elave power. A few such instances of civil courage exhibed by northern members of congress would do great good. They would open the way for the re-admission uf freedom of speech into ihat body - a freedom which is niw banished from these on the subject of slavery. Northern members do not utter their real sentiments - they do not utter the sentiments of their constituents on the floor of Congress, when that question is brought up in any shape before that body. Of the 26 members of the Senate there was probably not one, who did nol agree with Mr. Porter, that "persons" was in this case the proper designation of tho blacks on board the Creóle. The decisión of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Mississippi case last winter must have been fresh in the rainds of all. This decisión was founded on tho fact directly asserted by the Court, that the Constitution regarded slaves & persons. - [f persons, thoy could not be subject to the aws of Virginia, when removed beyoad :ier territorial jurisdiction. By thisremoval they became ipso facto free. Once on the highway of nations Virginia laws bad no more power over them than over the wild billows that were rolling around thera. Sluve laws, the laws of forcé can act only where thut force is, namely the soil thal is trodden by the owners of men. It cannot bind tho waves of theold ocean. The law of Virginia then had ceased to opérate over these men; the law of Louisiana had not commenced; the laws of the United States were silent as to their case, while the Constitution seeiug in ihem persons and not property could not regard them as criminal in freeing themselves from illegal personal restraint. This was undoubtedly the view taken of the matter by one Senator; it must have have been the view taken of it by other northern Senators. It isconformable to various decisions of the Supreme Court and of State courts - it is the view of common sense. - Why then did our Senator stand alone in his attempt to bring the resolution more under conslitutional foims, and more intothe constitulional spirit! Entone nnswer can be given - fcar - fear - personal or political fear of ill to themselves or of 11 lo thcir party. Besides ibis, therc ia no concert or union, among ihose wbo are favorable to liberty while there is the closest union, the most entire concert omong" ihose who are opposed to it. To this discouragmgcircumstance must beadded that general indefinito fear which men who on tho upproach of a great crisis have not made up their minda vvhat course to lake, have of men whose minds aro fully made up, and who are ready to go tho death ia support of the course they have laken. - This givea the latter an incalculable advantage. Nevertheless a great crisis is upproaching, and cannot long be deferred. Any one who will altend to the signs of the linies musl feel that wo cannot long remain in our present state. The Northern people will not long suflyr their Senators and Representativo to blink every question connecled in any way withslavery or slave-holdiiig intetésts und to ehut their eyea to ïhe enormous encroachments of the siave power. They wiil not consent ihat their '6 Senators and their 150 represenlatives shall be mere cyphers - to count noihing till put into the rigfet placo by the hand of their Southern masters. - Bv the new census tfie balance of power is lurned still more in favor of the North, do much eo, that whenever ehe chooscs, she is the mistrees of tho government. - She will not always sleep. Such rcsoluticns ae those of Mr. Calboun, such conduet as that of Mr. Poiler, with the dis- cussions to which il gave riso will sovn cause her to open her eyes. Perhaps no resolution will everagain pass the Senate, which assumes that our flag has been insulted, becauBe Virginia laws are not executed in a British harbor - that our citizens are wronged, becauje a foreign power refuses to return iugitives from slavery - ihat Virginia slave laws extends over the wide ocean - thut persons are guilty of inurder, who in strict self-dufeuce kill a inan who is endeavoring to tako their lives with a deadly weapon. A resolution afñrming all this was eubmitted to tho Sonate of the United States. So iniperious und overbearing is the slave power, ihat we honor the taan who dared in his place in the Senate, to object to a liltle of that resoiulion. He probably waa not awaro ofiho storm he was raiaing and possibiy after the event was astouishcd at his owa boldness. Would thut bis constancy had been equa! lo his courage ! But for this he wil! no doubt have other occasions. The discussions arismg irorn the case of tho Creóle are begun, but (hey are not yet ended. It has kindled a ñame which will not soon die away. Let ushope that our Senator will be ever true to bimself, trua to the State he represente,true to the great principies of liberty and justice. Michigan has been honojed by what he has atlempled to do eiugle-handed - may her united voice encourage him to fidelily to her Lood numo and to the creat interesis of